Summary: 6th message in an 8 week series on the Lord’s Prayer. This one deals with the phrase: "as we forgive those who sin against us..."
Can You Hear Me Now? Good! Week 6
MATTHEW 5:44, 6:12b & 14-15
There are several jobs I can think of that would be uncomfortable and I wonder why anyone wants to do them. One is a traffic cop. In a lot of departments there is an officer(s) assigned to the traffic division. Their job is to run radar, write tickets & work accidents during their entire day of duty. One of my friends who worked that detail used to say that almost every person he stopped would be mad at him. He finally started saying to them.. “Listen, you think you’ve got it bad.. How would you like a job where you never made a friend all day?” Or how about being an IRS agent? I knew a man who did that job and he said he hated going to social gatherings because sooner or later the inevitable question would surface: “And what do you do?” As soon as he told them he became like a pirana at the party, no-one talked to him. But maybe one of the worst jobs is the one Max Lucado in The Great House of God mentions. The Collection agent. You know the person whose job it is to get people to pay their past due bills. Lucado writes: “What kind of person would enjoy such a job?..Don’t get me wrong, I understand why such an occupation is necessary. I wonder how comfortable you could be at a job that makes everyone else feel bad. Who wants to be a missionary of misery? An ambassador of agony? No one wants to take their calls. No one is happy to see them at their door. Can you imagine what their spouse says to them as they go to work? `Make ‘em squirm, honey.’ I mean, who is their hero? Godzilla? Their payday is in your paycheck, and they are out to get it. Can you imagine spending your days like that?”
But wait, perhaps you can, perhaps we all can. Don’t we all at one time or another demand payment from someone else? We deserve: an apology, an explanation? a thank-you? a childhood? a marriage? I mean, it probably wouldn’t take any of us very long to think of someone who owes us - possessive parents, unappreciative children, insensitive spouse, inattentive friend.
Jesus said, “Pray like this..” and in Mt. 6:12a said: “Forgive us our sins..” We like that. But then He adds, “..just as we have forgiven those who have sinned against us.” Just had to add that didn’t He? I mean, it’s great to discuss the encouraging message about God’s forgiveness. What a joy to have His “anytime minutes,” His forgiveness. We learned they are free and are ours, when we have Jesus as our Savior, just for the asking. But now we turn from encouragement to challenge. We move from His “anytime minutes” to our “rollover minutes.” Cingular claims to be the only wireless company to offer this perk. They say, “Rollover Minutes are unused, accumulated, anytime minutes that roll over from month to month.” Well, this morning I want us to say, “My rollover minutes are those that I’ve accumulated from God’s anytime minutes, His forgiveness, and now I am to roll those over to anyone who has wounded me.” So, let’s look at how we are to react when we’ve been injured or wounded by another, because dealing with this issue is at the heart of happiness and at the heart of the Lord’s prayer.
I. UNDERSTANDING THE PHRASE: “As we forgive our sins..”
First, as we have been doing let’s understand the phrase. It’s important to understand that Jesus uses identical words for forgiveness in both phrases in this verse. He basically is saying, “Now, our heavenly Father is willing to forgive you, so you should confidently ask for it. But you also need to be as willing to forgive others since He has forgiven you.” Eph. 4:32- “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other... just as in Christ God forgave you.”(NIV) Now, please don’t misunderstand. I don’t believe Jesus gives this phrase flippantly. He understands that what He is asking is very, very difficult because it is in our nature to strike back, to get even.
“To Kill A Mockingbird” is one of my favorite stories. The main character is Atticus Finch, a lawyer and father who defends a young black man of rape in 1932. As you can imagine, in that day that was not a popular decision. He’s called all kinds of names and even his children bear the brunt of his decision to defend Tom Robinson. An all white jury convicts Tom of the crime, even though they do it purely because he is black. Atticus tells Tom they will appeal. But now, an even greater injustice has happened and Atticus must tell Tom’s family some terrible news. The white man who framed Tom Robinson watches Atticus with Tom’s family and then with utter contempt demeans Atticus for even befriending the blacks. Watch how Atticus reacts.